The Dying Animal
By Philip Roth
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618135875, 176pp.)
Publication Date: May 2001
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David Kepesh is white-haired and over sixty, an eminent TV culture critic and star lecturer at a New York college, when he meets Consuela Castillo, a decorous, well-mannered student of twenty-four, the daughter of wealthy Cuban exiles, who promptly puts his life into erotic disorder.
Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, when he left his wife and child, Kepesh has experimented with living what he calls an "emancipated manhood," beyond the reach of family or a mate. Over the years he has refined that exuberant decade of protest and license into an orderly life in which he is both unimpeded in the world of eros and studiously devoted to his aesthetic pursuits. But the youth and beauty of Consuela, "a masterpiece of volupté" undo him completely, and a maddening sexual possessiveness transports him to the depths of deforming jealousy. The carefree erotic adventure evolves, over eight years, into a story of grim loss.
What is astonishing is how much of America’s post-sixties sexual landscape is encompassed in THE DYING ANIMAL. Once again, with unmatched facility, Philip Roth entangles the fate of his characters with the social forces that shape our daily lives. And there is no character who can tell us more about the way we live with desire now than David Kepesh, whose previous incarnations as a sexual being were chronicled by Roth in THE BREAST and THE PROFESSOR OF DESIRE.
A work of passionate immediacy as well as a striking exploration of attachment and freedom, THE DYING ANIMAL is intellectually bold, forcefully candid, wholly of our time, and utterly without precedent--a story of sexual discovery told about himself by a man of seventy, a story about the power of eros and the fact of death.
In 1997 PHILIP ROTH won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in fiction, previously awarded to John Dos Passos, William Faulkner, and Saul Bellow, among others. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. He has also won American PEN’s two highest awards: the PEN/Nabokov and PEN/Bellow awards. He is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America.
"...a distinguished addition to Roth's increasingly remarkable literary career." The San Francisco Chronicle
"(a) gleefully incendiary tale...whose eloquence and rage ultimately persuade us that (we)...bear the grace and the misfortune of belonging to a deeply flawed, tragically vulnerable, unavoidably mortal species." Elle
"This little book delivers a chill that you wouldn't get from a Zuckerman novel." Newsday
"In the hard, driving, unsentimental sentences, and with superb dialogue...Roth remained true to his youthful vision" Atlantic Monthly
"Powerful...Roth's narrator newly illuminates the American body, the American soul, the life of loving and the love of life that has always been so all-consuming in his fiction." The Chicago Tribune
"...insidiously disturbing and completely irresistable...All sympathetic readers will find themselves wondering: Is Philip Roth now our finest living novelist?" The Washington Post
"...the eponymous dying animal is not only a certain sort of man of a particular generation, but all of us..." Elle
"Small in size..large in insight and wisdom...Roth is spitting out brilliant novels every year. He's an American treasure." Orlando Sentinel
"...encompasses a broad expanse of human emotion and extends his stunning literary winning streak." St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"...a brilliant, demanding and splendidly artful exploration of fundamentals of literature and life" The Baltimore Sun